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Jefferson City School District Names New Principals for Two Elementary Schools

JEFFERSON CITY - The Jefferson City School District today announced the hiring of principals for South Elementary and East Elementary for the 2023-2024 school year. The professionals hired to these positions are as follows: 

  • James Groves, current assistant principal at Pioneer Trail Elementary, will be the new principal for South Elementary. Dr. Groves is replacing Teri Tillinghast, who is returning to the classroom as teacher at Lawson Elementary; 

  • Jesse Oswald, current assistant principal at Thomas Jefferson Middle School, will be the new principal at East Elementary, replacing Dr. Ryan Day, who will be transitioning to the role of Executive Director of Elementary Education for Columbia Public Schools.

“We are excited for the skill set, experience, and passion these two leaders will bring to their new roles at South and East elementary schools,” Dr. Troy Hogg, JC Schools assistant superintendent of elementary education, said. “I am confident that the individuals chosen are well-equipped to continue the important academic, behavioral, and culture-building work that is needed at their schools in the years to come.”

Dr. James Groves (South Elementary)James Groves Photo

Dr. Groves is an educator with nearly two decades of classroom experience and nine years of experience assisting and leading elementary and secondary buildings. He joined the Jefferson City School District in 2019, where he has served as the assistant principal at Pioneer Trail Elementary and Thomas Jefferson Middle School. 

“Our world has undergone so many drastic changes in recent years and many of them have deeply impacted public education. Now, more than ever, teachers need to feel supported and valued, students need to see a strong vision for positive school culture and rigorous learning, and parents need to feel a strong partnership with their child’s school. I am grateful for the opportunity to join the South Elementary School family and eager to further the excellent work that has already been undertaken toward these ends,” Groves said.  

Groves earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, and his master’s degree in education administration from Lindenwood University. He completed his doctorate degree in curriculum and instruction with Liberty University and graduated with high distinction in 2022. 

Jesse Oswald (East Elementary)Jesse Oswald Photo

Jesse Oswald joined JC Schools in 2019 and has served as an assistant principal at Pioneer Trail Elementary, Belair Elementary, and Thomas Jefferson Middle School. His 14 years of experience in education have allowed him to focus on student success and maximizing the effectiveness of educational programs.

“I feel my experience as an assistant principal at various grade levels throughout JC Schools has allowed me to grow and mature as a building leader. My personal philosophy is that all students can and will learn and succeed if they are allowed to thrive in a supportive learning environment. I cannot wait to become a member of the East Elementary family, and am very much looking forward to building upon the positive growth their students and staff have achieved in recent years,” Oswald said. 

Oswald earned his bachelor’s degree in education from Central Methodist University, his master’s degree in educational leadership from Columbia College, and a specialist degree in educational leadership from Arkansas State University. He is currently pursuing a doctorate degree in educational leadership with Liberty University.